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These Aussies used tech to crack the secret to getting fit and feeling healthy

Techly's Guest Post Series
An entire industry has been built on the ‘get fit quick’ mentality, with little regard for how long the benefits of exercise last.

Twelve-week programs are often abandoned after twelve weeks – that is, if they were even followed through before that. Two sporty entrepreneurs, Niall McCarthy and James Tonkin, were dissatisfied with this model and worked to revolutionise fitness programs with the aid of technology.

They created Zova, an app which uses artificial intelligence to tailor exercise programs to individual users. That AI takes the form of Zara, a smart personal trainer that can keep users on track – for the long term – through implementing simple and sustainable habits into everyday life.

The aim for Zova? Better health. Less stress. More happiness. Better sex. More energy. And getting more done in the day.

Techly chatted to founder, Niall McCarthy, about the ups and downs of driving an Apple Award-winning app. The Zova team also contributed to Techly’s Guest Post Series, which you can check out here.

What makes Zova more unique than any other program currently available?

We have two key features unique to Zova. Firstly Zara, our smart personal trainer inside the app. Zara measures what you do throughout the day, learns your interests, then recommends personalised workouts you can stream, log or track using Zova.

Secondly the Activity Score, which is a 7 day average of your activity level. It aggregates all your steps, workouts and movement into a single number. This makes staying on track super simple and measurable.

What inspired you to set up Zova? Who makes up the team?

My co-founder, James, and I wanted to build a product that genuinely helped people improve their quality of life. We’ve both been fortunate to grow up with an active lifestyle, and have experienced the benefits of exercise first hand. Providing a service that helps people across the world do the same is a great feeling.

We’re a team of 7 across Sydney and Melbourne. Many people think Zova is a much bigger – this is credit to our very talented team. We’re predominantly technical and design – priding ourselves on product quality and innovation.

What drives the Zova team to help facilitate healthy and fit lifestyles?

Every day we get amazing users reach out and share their personal stories of how Zova has helped improve their lives. These stories are the reasons we do what we do!

Wow!! We are incredibly excited to receive an Apple Design Award this week at #wwdc16 !! Thanks for your support @appstore 💪🏃🏽and for our incredible community! We couldn't have done it without you 😝 . . . #wwdc #appstore #appledesignaward #zova #zovagirl #fitness #zovafit #winner

A post shared by Zova | Fitness to feel great (@zovafit) on

What’s been the biggest challenge for getting Zova off the ground?

Startups are really hard. There are so many challenges that go into building a successful product and profitable business. From the target audience, hiring a great people, to building a product people want to use and pay for. But having the perseverance to push on when it gets really hard is the most important to date.

What’s next in store for Zova?

We’ve just released a great feature that supports logging workouts people do outside of Zova. So if you go to the gym, attend a class, go for a swim, you can now add that into Zova which contributes to your Activity Score.

We’ve got a few more big features coming in the next couple of months that we think people will really enjoy, we’ll keep our lips tight on those for now.

What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve received about the app?

Recently I’ve been calling some of our long term customers to get their direct feedback. I’ve spoken to many people that have used the app almost everyday for over 2 years who have told me how much impact Zova had on their lives. That really does bring a smile to your face.

About the author

Larissa is Techly’s Assistant Editor. She watches so much Youtube that she’s narrowed down her favourite categories – goats, innocent dads getting pranked, and toddlers falling over.

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